After a Nashville police officer was charged with homicide last week, questions are likely to emerge about the man he fatally shot — Daniel Hambrick.
His mother says that, in any trial that may proceed, she hopes the portrait painted of her son includes her vision of him.
Overflowing a simple navy sports bag is a treasure trove of memories: Photographs of baptisms, cousins laughing and game day snapshots on the football field.
The owner of this bundle is Vickie Hambrick. Her son was the 25-year-old man who was shot and killed by Metro Nashville Police Officer Andrew Delke in July.
Now, his mother often returns to this bag. She flips through each memory inside. One in particular is a favorite — her son smiling at the camera in a bright blue suit. It’s the same one that’s printed across her shirt, under the letters, “R.I.P.”
“He loved [the suit], I think he was eight or nine,” says Hambrick, looking at the photo. She recalls how as a child, her son loved to go to church and visit with neighbors between the pews.
“Daniel used to carry around his Bible and a little handkerchief and say, ‘Amen, Amen, Amen. God is good,’” she said. “You know just be real funny. But you know he was a good child.”
Hambrick is legally blind, so throughout Daniel’s life, he took on the role of his mother’s caretaker, helping with everything from bathtime to paying the bills. She was dependent on him, she said, because “he was my eyes.”
And, he was also her closest companion. That’s why, Vickie Hambricks says, she hopes the narrative around her son isn’t one-sided.
After Andrew Delke was charged with homicide last week, Hambrick says she recognizes questions are likely to emerge about her son’s past in any trial that might proceed.
She acknowledges that Daniel Hambrick has a criminal history, which goes back to his teenage years. Court records confirm he had served jail time for misdemeanor offenses. He was due back to court in March to face felony weapon and drug possession charges, dating back to 2015. And, police say he was holding a gun when he was running away from Delke.
But, Vickie Hambrick says, her son shouldn’t be painted as a criminal, because it has no bearing on what happened the day he was killed. He was working hard to improve his life, she says, and he was even about to start a new job as a cook. And, she attributes her son’s criminal record to him having gotten mixed up with the wrong friends.
“I talked to Daniel. You have to push those old friends away and get some new friends. Once you are alone, you’ll get back on the right track, and that’s what he was trying to do,” she said. “He wasn't no animal. He was a human being. I don’t want people to think he was an animal.”
In terms of accountability for her son’s death, Vickie Hambrick says “she doesn’t expect anything” from Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson, who has ordered a review of the department’s policies on foot pursuits. Anderson has also said he intends to reach out to the family, but according to Hambrick’s lawyer, Joy Kimbrough, the two sides have not been in touch.
Hambrick contends Officer Delke only saw him as a black man running and, in her words, decided to “execute” him. So in her mind, prosecutors’ decision to pursue a homicide charge is only a first step.
Only if Delke is officially convicted of murder, she says, would she feel like justice has been served.